Messy head

I saw my consultant again today. My arm is healing nicely and I will have the stitches removed on Friday. However, ongoing headaches and slight uncoordinated movements have highlighted the potential need for a head scan. Apparently, although the first 24 hours are crucial with concussion, within a two week period symptoms can flare up indicating slight swelling of the brain. And the chances are made higher by the fact I smashed up my helmet. Some swelling will heal itself, others require surgery. The latter is really not appealing here in Cambodia!

On Friday we will evaluate the need, which also gives me time to check in with my insurance company.

I also spoke to my children today on FaceTime and I have to say at this stage my maternal pull is so strong, I can’t bear much more time without them. It’s become almost painful, like I’m incomplete. Time seems to have stopped, and I can’t seem to function without their smell, noise, chaos and warm cuddles anymore. I’ve not had their pictures as my wallpaper on my phone since I arrived, it’s been too painful. When I relented it lasted two days, but their innocent and cheeky smiles on my phone made me feel physically sick. Like everything is wrong.

I’ve tried talking to my husband again. To find his heart, find out how he feels, but it’s a constant shut down. I linger over every text I send, I worry I might say something wrong, something to irritate or stress him out. I try to be patient, I try to be understanding, I try not to expect too much. But I will never know what’s going on with him. I’m frozen out and there’s nothing I can do about that. Not at least until we can talk in person I guess. I’m resigned to the fact that he barely tolerates me, and if he will be happier to leave me, I will do whatever he wants. I have given up on my own expectations and needs. I just want him to be happy. Even if that means he will jump ship on my return. 

Sometimes you just have to let go, even if it’s excruciatingly painful. I’m not going to beg or play games or demand his attention like a child. I am beyond all of that nonsense. I just want peace and I want my children to be happy and feel secure.

Tomorrow I have arranged to catch up with the tuk tuk driver that took me to Teoul Slang and the Killing Fields. I’m pleased to see he’s started his own touring business and is doing well. Tomorrow he will take me to see how silk is made. I’ll be grateful to be out and doing something different with my time. It will take my mind off of everything and give me a chance to immerse myself in the local culture again.

This evening I sat at the Sky Bar, watched the angry sun burn away amidst the dark clouds and was encaptured by a powerful lightening storm. 80s love songs played in the background, an array of different nationalities chatted around me. The atmosphere was nice, but I felt all to aware of my loneliness. Aware that unlike everyone else, my family weren’t here to appreciate the moment.

   
 

Identity

Daughter

Mother

Wife

Rape survivor 

Domestic violence survivor 

Friend

Advocate

Caring

Selfish

Self absorbed

Lost

Abandoned

Loved

Hated

Tolerated 

Separated

Anonymous

Forgotten 

Vulnerable

Sad

Fiesty

Resented

Child

Who am I?

All of the above, it’s not exhaustive though. I’m sure other people would add plenty more. 

Some probably cruel, some quite nice. Maybe indifferent.

Daughter? Not really anymore. I’m estranged from my family. They wouldn’t know if I was dead or alive. Moreover they’re probably not that bothered anyway, I’m far from the perfect daughter.

Mother? I try. But I’m in a different country now, did I abandon my children? Was I really unselfish enough to give them what they needed?

Wife? Not anymore. I failed. My husband detests me. For most reasons above and a whole lot more

Rape survivor? Who cares? It was years ago, but I always carry it around. A weight, a struggle. An obstacle I brought into my relationship. My excuse for my behaviour. My excuse to feel sorry for myself. A compound of irrational fears. Emotions that can’t be helped with medications and therapy.

Domestic violence survivor? Similarly, what’s the point of this? This label. So I dated an arsehole. I thought I could change him, I couldn’t. It just adds to my bitterness, my hostility and further compounds irrational fears. A sense of self loathing. 

Friend? I hope so. To some. I do care about people.

The rest are a medley of words I associate with myself. I’ve come to learn as my behaviour.

I’m seen differently by different people. Like some like my assertiveness, some find it offensive. 

If someone created me as a template of a person, they would screw up the page and throw it away. Too contrasting, too damaging. Not really worth all the hassle.

Wife, daughter, mother – I have lost the right to those titles. By my own doing. No one should pity me, there is no justification. No excuse. I failed on all parts.

I’m anonymous. One of those people that could disappear, and people might ask a few laters, hey what happened to that girl?

My direction has ended. 

My journey is pointless. I am the person I will always be. I can try to better myself, less of the negative personality traits. I do think over the last few weeks things have shifted.

But I am one person. One person intrinsically destined to fail at anything I set out to do.

Destined to cause complications, hurt, annoyance, and fragmented distortion wherever I go. 

Was it the rapist that changed me? Did he see something in me, like a cancer, and pushed this evil cancer to become all consuming?

Was it the partner? Did he break me down? Take away my sense of purpose?

Was it an accumulation of events? Or was I just born inheritably bad? A medley of bad thoughts. A cold heart.

What will become of me?

I’m afraid of my past, present and future. Because all are bleak.

In the mirror I see an unattractive, overweight, dark eyed image of a woman. I can’t relate to that reflection. I have no empathy, no pride, no belief in the plain face that looks back at me. One eye seems half closed, my nose is big and crooked, my smile is crooked.

Ugly inside and outside.

Am I destined to bumble through life? A loner, a loser?

I used to believe I was destined for big things. To make change, to help people, to fight for what I believe in.

But that was obviously a childish egotistical theory.

I am in truth a nobody. I belong to nobody, nobody belongs to me. I am unaccounted for luggage in an airport. Best avoided.

My identity is the depth of the name in my passport.

Not required

I found a bookshop today. Phew! Of course the books were used but charged as new, but my desperation to lose myself into the chapters of other stories was of higher importance. Feel different emotions, become almost addicted to the reel that shows in my head like a movie, and the satisfaction to reach a conclusion. An end. And there’s something endearing about used books. When I buy books new, I’m careful not to crack spines, I don’t bend pages, I use bookmarks. They look unread, untouched. So when I read a used book, I consider the other people engrossed in the same story, wondering what they felt, how it related to them, if at all. If they were disappointed or enthralled.

I sat by the pool and began my journey. The heat simply got too much, and I started to feel sick from the intense heat, no breeze, the smell of sewage or something, maybe left out garbage adding to the queasiness.

I retreated to my air conditioned room.

Odd messages sent between myself and my husband. His responses obligatory, short, unemotional, so detached I could be messaging an acquaintance. Not the man I’ve spent most of my life with.

The man that I’ve seen cry at the birth of our children. The man that’s held me while I’ve cried, soothed nightmares. Enjoyed many dinners with, travelled with and accumulated stories and anecdotes that we usually regale over evenings together. Laughing so hard. Knowing each other’s habits, our pet hates, our quirks.

The man that once told me that he was asked to draw the perfect woman, then added so genuinely, well, it was you! The man that drove to One Tree Hill and wrote, I LOVE YOU PENNY in big rocks that could be viewed from the top of this huge hill. The man that buys my favourite flowers (sunflowers), that has stood by me unquestioning and unwavering. The man that once told me I was the most courageous person he knew.

Now I pass emails to him from my legal team, he does as requested but does it in autopilot. Mixed with work files and tax reports, ‘wife’s rape case paperwork.’ A kind of repitition to the chore. Words, statements blending together. Could be anyone now. Not the wife he proposed to over ice cream in our barely furnished little house in Australia – because we couldn’t afford to furnish it and relied on borrowed bits and pieces. Not the wife he referred to as his best friend. The woman that he used to look at with undying love and affection. That would always open the door for me, always give me his jacket when I was cold after a night out. The couple that’s slept in cars, tents, dodgy backpackers, fantastic local pubs and some of the most amazing luxury accomodation.

I am now the annoyance. The one asking for clarity, needing to find my place in my family. Although the mere fact that I had such a horrible motorbike accident didn’t spur him into action or emotion. Would he have gone through the motions then if I’d died? Do tax returns, get body back, attend work meetings, call a funeral place, drink coffee, reports to colleagues, set funeral date, arrange insurance payout.

His parents are helping with the children, supporting him. So I’m kind of a spare part. Waiting in the wings. Scared to push too hard in case I get shut out, scared not to show my need to make things right, not let my family down. Trying to find a balance.

I am feeling the brutal force of his boundaries – whether intentional or subconscious. 

I like his opinion on things. He’s the considered one, I’m the spontaneous one. Of course we have argued in the past because of my tendency towards knee jerk reactions and his need for time and information gathering. But it’s worked in the past, he became more assertive and spontaneous and I became more able to research something or consider more facts.

But now my friends message with tenderness, care, concern and interest. My husband only responds and it’s usually when I’ve been direct about the travel insurance or money. The business exchanges.

When I’ve had bad nights, he’s heard it all before. When I’m sad, it’s too much for him. When I’m confused, it’s not really his problem.

He’s not being a dick. He’s tired. Tired from my issues, tired from fighting, tired of my anger bursts.

I’m not the person I used to be. I’ve let things corrode me, make me bitter, make me angry. Left me feeling that everything is unjust. Almost personal against me.

He quite rightly needs space from that. Time to consider his own feelings, as opposed to preempting and reacting to mine.

But these blows, they strike and they hurt. I can’t get used to this new demeanour. This new way of communicating. I want a glimpse of the old husband I knew. That connection. 

I’m not really needed at home. I tell myself I am, to look after the kids, to support him. But he’s fine without me. They all are.

I built this expectation of detachment around me and now I’m horrified that it’s all I have.

I’m on a journey of self discovery and I don’t like what I see. I don’t like the damage I’ve created. 

Long but great day!

Yesterday I had this ‘urgent’ meeting at the Head Office at the NGO I work for in relation to the issues that have arisen. The morning started well when I bumped into my good friend, the American journalist in the hotel lobby. She had just returned from a religious thing in Singapore. We agreed to catch up for lunch, as myself and the volunteer coordinator usually based in Kratie took me to the office. I have grown very fond of her. She’s very sweet and genuinely of good heart.

I presented everything in the meeting. How I enjoyed the role, but the politics had frustrated me. I gave good solid reasons for my observations and also offered feedback on how well the organisation was received in Kratie and it would be a shame to see it go under. In all the attendees seemed interested in what I had to say, indentified the issues or weaknesses in the team and said they would very much like me to stay and asked what they could do to make me reconsider my stance of not returning. It was nice to be heard and acknowledged. To have a professional exchange, not all this trivial bullshit. It was a positive meeting, but I asked for consideration and to see their planned strategies before I committed with a decision. Then to lunch with the volunteer coordinator whom I very much consider a close friend now and the journalist. It was nice. Normal. Refreshing.

Straight onto the Dr after that. Previously she’d put these six little squares on my arm to absorb blood and weeping, but the squares had quickly embedded into my wound. Hence the reason I had been in so much pain. It took a while for her to painfully remove the squares. The weakness remains but at this stage I’m not sure an x-Ray is necessary. But it’s on the cards if the weakness continues. She also replaced my pain relief. And told me if I was in pain, it was ok to remove the bandages and reapply antibiotic cream. What a relief! It’s amazing how the bandage adds to the discomfort.

I was with her for over an hour and had mentioned to another friend based in PP what time I’d be back at the hotel. I arrived to find him waiting.

Initially we caught up on the teaching, how our places vary, any gossip and of course, the accident! I was feeling very tired, but I was keen to see Phonm Penh at night. In particular go to the foreign correspondence club.

It was amazing. The view was breathtaking

  
And the bar itself was different with its grandeur design and interesting posts and quotes around the room

  
  
We enjoyed trying the different cocktails – starting with a Phnom Penh sling!

The atmosphere was really nice. A complete contrast to the quiet of Le Tonle in Kratie. There was a buzzing. A vibrancy.

We took a walk along the street and observed the Royal Palace and gardens 

  
Although marred by the constant asking if we needed a tuk tuk. We do like to walk sometimes people!

My friend is diabetic which is really an illness I know nothing about. I asked him about symptoms and warnings previously because I always like to know what to do and how to assist/when to assist if necessary. Good job I did, he quickly became increasingly unwell because there had been too many sugary cocktails and to negate that he had taken too much insulin. 

I took him to my hotel and a blood test revealed his sugars levels were dangerously low. He was drowsy and becoming less responsive. So I was forcing him to drink coke, eat what I could find and making sugary tea. Ongoing monitoring with blood prick tests showed no improvement. I sat with Google and read all I could. I finally let him sleep and paced my hotel room, unsure how to manage the situation aside from waking him and have him drink more sugary things. Convinced I might push him the other way, I tentatively dozed off, but awoke periodically to check he was basically still alive. In morning his blood sugar was dangerously high so I got him food while he took his insulin.

Finally we saw the number we needed – he was good. But it’s such a complicated illness and requires so much thought and management. 

So I will probably catch up with him next week, but this time not try to kill him!

Today it’s raining hard. I feel tired now too, I will sleep and watch movies today.

It was so great to feel supported yesterday in the meeting and I’m sure I got my grievances and suggestions across in a fair and calm manner.

Being amongst good, genuine friends was really conducive and I felt relaxed.

In all a great, busy, varied day.

I have heard my lawyer a few times requiring random bits of paperwork. I’ve had to forward this to My husband as I wouldn’t have resources.

So lots going on! And I’m currently managing everhthing, although at the moment it amazes me just how much I’m handling it all so calmly!

Full circle

I’ve gone full circle. I’m back the hotel where I started in Phonm Penh.

The taxi here was a disaster. After we refuelled (which he asked me to pay because he didn’t have any money) and my 50USD fare, his car mysteriously stopped working properly. Another taxi was arranged. 

And this taxi picked people up, dropped them off. I was God knows where, wondering if I’d ever get to PP. 

Eventually, after a journey that took the same as the bus – I arrived nearly six hours later, as opposed to the customary four in a private taxi. My driver also got lost, and although I don’t know Khmer, I could tell he was angry about it.

The volunteer coordinator met me, I unwrapped my painful arm and the blood gushed everywhere. I cleaned it with bottled water, wrapped a flannel and a dressing gown belt around it and we went straight the hospital. The ‘usual’ dr wasn’t there. So a guy that looked about 12, drowning in his doctor coat, cleaned the wound wordlessly and wrapped it using a ‘fake’ skin. I was expected to come the next day and see the other dr. 

In that time I copped abuse from the Australian teacher for leaving a day earlier than anticipated. I have no idea why. I only had enough time to pay my bill, pack and the taxi was there. And I was keen to get close to the city.

Since then it seems the Kratie project has used my accident as a catalyst for all the problems and issues there. A Skype chat that had been planned for weeks was fucked around and the tidbits of information I received sounded like I was the social pariah. I know that’s not actually true, there have been miscommunications and break downs since the project started. But head office hasn’t listened or done anything. Everyone is blaming everyone else. I was just happy to teach and live in my little guesthouse. If problems arose I spoke directly and assertively but all the political bullshit is draining and frankly boring. 

Being in PP, I’m close to the airport, today I realised just how easy it would be to jump on a plane, get home. Be with my children, be in my own country.

But my husband is less keen. To compromise I thought if I stayed a bit longer touring around he might feel differently. Although my heart wants to go home, my head is asking can I stand the look of disdain and misery from my husband? 

I saw the consultant at 2pm. She’s told me its best to stay here for the week. My arm is hot to the touch, it’s weak and vulnerable to infection. And carrying things is too hard. She is considering further tests, but first she wants to see my arm heeling. I was on the wrong antibiotics as I tried to express to my counterparts in Kratie, but they just wanted me to take the pills – but not pain relief. I’m sure if their nerve endings were at the surface, they would want painkillers too.

So I’m kind of fed up with the politics and now taking the shit.

I’m very sore, I’m sweating, sat next to a pool that looks even more beautiful and I can’t go in.

I’ll miss more valuable teaching time as well as entering a particularly hostile and awkward working environment. I ask myself, as a volunteer do I really need this?

I’ve come to Cambodia and enjoyed its offerings. The culture and history. Even my stint at teaching showed me a confidence and knowledge I long thought dead.

But I feel old, tired, grubby all the time. I’m restless at being told to wait a week. My insurance reimburses me so my outgoings are more than I budgeted for. Which in turn will further agitate my husband.

If I hadn’t have been wearing a helmet, I would have died or be pretty much dead. My helmet was destroyed on impact. Considering this I feel further committed to my family. But even a near fatal accident didn’t change my husband’s disposition. That speaks volumes really.

So full circle and still very much alone. 

GRRRRRRRR!

I’m supposed to be resting. I am, I don’t have a choice. I can feel the skin swelling where the stitches are. It’s painful. I have another laceration on my shoulder. I stupidly put a t-shirt on today and the fabric stuck to the laceration, I had to gently peel it off, and it bled. So I’ve put a pad over it now covered it in antiseptic lotion.

I slept for a long time today and feel better for that. Grateful that there’s not a medley of people using their time and energy to care for me. I prefer my healing and pain in private.

I went downstairs for a late lunch. The blue skies and bustling really added to my misery. I want to take a ride along the Mekong. I want to check out a local pagoda. It’s beautiful, but hot. My skin throbs in the heat. And I know I won’t walk far before the dizziness sets in. 

I know the other staff are working hard to cover my work. I feel like such a burden. I’m in this amazing place and there’s nothing I can do.

The insurance company have spoken to me on and off, the cost of calls using my NZ phone is exorbitant. NZD5 per minute outgoing, NZD1 per minute incoming. Another high bill that my husband will have to cough up for, when I’m working really hard to stay on budget. The line is bad so we’re often cut off.

I just want to feel normal again. In this state I feel weak and vulnerable. I hate it. 

Part of me wants to cut the stitches out, just keep it clean and get back to the job I’m supposed to be doing. I can do a lot of it sitting down while my brain settles down after the big shake up. 

I’m wasting time now. Wasting everyone’s time.

I plan to get back teaching on Monday. And later in the week get used to the Moto again, I refuse to be scared by it. It’s that plan i have that keeps me motivated. Just need to get through the weekend and my obligatory trip to a western dr in Phnom Penh.

If my husband were here, he would understand me. My need to have a sense of control, a game plan. My fears and my irrational desire to rip the stitches out. He would negotiate the hospital, put me at ease. He’d know I would never agree to a head scan. He’d help me get reaqquainted with the bike, knowing it’s important to me. But therein lies the problem, he’d do all these things and I would take it for granted. Take him for granted. No wonder he had enough. Patching me up, reassuring me, dealing with my dramas.

It’s too much for one person. Unfortunately now I’ve had to involve him to help talk with the insurer based in NZ so that he knows the costs and I’m not making expensive calls. So from miles away, I’m still causing him stress. Still relying on him. He probably feels like he never gets a break.

At least he’s forced to talk to me, so for a short time I can feel like we are united. And I get to feel less alone.

I dont have much energy now. I’m getting tired again. I’ll just sleep another day away. I want my life back. And i have to get used to the fact my husband won’t tell me, it will be ok. You’ll have forgotten about this next week.

I miss him. And I regret all the times I took him for granted.